Ancient Air by Lı Po (Li Bai)

Deep in the gorgeous gloom the lotus grows,
to blossom fresh upon the morning air.
Its petals cover even the clarity of autumn’s flow,
its leaves spreading, blue smoke there.
But it’s in vain, this beauty that would overwhelm the world.
Who sees it? Who will say he saw?
And in its time the frost will come, chilling,
its deep red will wither, and its fragrance fade.
Poor choice it’s made of where to put its roots.
It would be seen to more advantage in a garden pond.

translated by J.P. Seaton

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